The Myths and Facts about Strength Training for Women
By HYLETE Content Team
While the prevailing thought for decades was that weightlifting was more important for men, strength training is actually an essential component for overall health for both men and women. In this post, we go over the myths and facts about strength training for women, and why you should add it into your routine immediately.
Benefits of Strength Training
- A stronger heart. Cardiovascular activity isn't the only way to get your heart into better shape. Lifting weights helps a lot too, and some studies say that it's actually more important of the two types of exercise for heart health. In fact, research from Iowa State University in 2018 concluded that lifting weights for a mere hour per week could reduce the chance of a heart attack and stroke by 40 to 70%.
- Prevention of diabetes. Over 30 million Americans suffer from diabetes. With the increase of sedentary lifestyles and easy access to sugary foods, more people than ever are at risk of getting Type II diabetes. Studies show that those who lift weights have a 32% lower chance of getting the potentially deadly disease.
- Less chance of osteoporosis. Osteoporosis affects 10 million Americans, with women making up 80% of those afflicted. When bone density decreases, the chances for osteoporosis increase. Luckily, lifting weights has been shown to increase bone density.
- Better mental health. Surprising, strength training has been shown to have many benefits to mental well-being. These include:
- Decreased anxiety and depression.
- Improved cognition.
- Better, more restful sleep.
- Improved memory.
- Higher self-esteem.
- Relief from chronic fatigue.
- Reduced risk of cancer. A recent study by The University of Sydney concluded that those who utilized strength training suffered cancer-related death at a 31% lower rate than those who did not.
With these kinds of benefits, there's really no excuse for not adding strength training to your regimen. Not only will you live a healthier life, but also a longer one. You owe it to yourself to live the best life possible and strength training will help with that.
Myths About Strength Training for Women
Let's debunk a few common myths regarding strength training for women.
- Lifting weights makes you bulky. Everyone has probably heard this one. In reality, however, adding a day or two of weight training into your exercise routine is not going to make you overly muscular. Women especially -since they have much less of the muscle-building hormone testosterone -are not going to suddenly turn into bodybuilders from picking up a dumbbell. You will retain your feminine physique while reaping all of the benefits listed above.
- You have a higher chance of getting hurt. Some think that strength training is a recipe for injury. This couldn't be further from the truth. Actually, lifting weights has been shown to help prevent injuries. Strong muscles, tendons and bones are less likely to break down and get hurt.
- You need to work each muscle group individually. Not only does a routine consisting of many different isolation exercises take forever to get through, it's also not the most efficient way to lift. If you want to improve flexibility, burn more calories and be more coordinated, compound lifts are preferable. Compound lifts engage more than one muscle group at a time. Exercises such as squats, deadlifts and lunges are fantastic compound lifts that are really worth your time.
- Bodyweight training is ineffective. Although lifting weights doesn't make you bulky, you don't need to hit the iron hard in order to improve your health. Bodyweight exercises such as pullups, pushups and standing lunges provide real results. Combining both in a strength training routine should provide maximum strength and flexibility.
Myths such as these have kept many women from living longer, healthier lives. The truth is simple: strength training is just as beneficial and necessary for women as it is for men. Perhaps more so, given that osteoporosis is mainly experienced by women. So, do not buy into these myths. Grab those dumbbells and start lunging. If you're looking to start a new strength program, we recommend consulting your doctor and a fitness professional to ensure it's right for you.
The Trainer's Take:
By Courtney Brickner, Certified Trainer
""I think it‚Äôs so important to continue to spread the message that dispels these myths about women and strength training. When I was in college and on the track team, I was on an extensive lifting routine and I was bulky. I assumed it was from the weights but what I didn‚Äôt take into consideration at the time was the fact that I over consumed the All You Can Eat Pasta and Make Your Own Waffle Bars at the cafeteria. Flash Forward 20 years and I decided to enter a fitness competition. I was so scared that my clothes wouldn‚Äôt fit after the show because of my experience with bulking in college. I was lifting more frequently and more weight than ever before. Yet this time, I combined it with good nutrition. I was shocked to see that my clothes actually fit better, I had more energy and my self-esteem was higher than ever. I tell clients all the time that weight lifting should be a staple in every woman‚Äôs exercise regimen. It‚Äôs good for the body inside and out.""
For more from Courtney, check out her article, How to Get Past the ""I Hate to Workout"" Mentality.